Recapping A Wild Week In Washington
An imminent shutdown. A historic Biden union visit. A Trump fraud unmasked. A trailblazer lost. A sham impeachment hearing. We're recapping the biggest political stories this week.
Thank you for reading! If you like my pro-democracy work and want to support it, please sign up below for free to get my articles in your inbox, or consider becoming a paid subscriber to get the full experience. This newsletter is entirely reader-funded, so paid subscribers make this work possible.
What a whirlwind week. There were so many new developments it can be hard to keep up.
Rather than focus today’s article on one story in particular, I decided to put together an overview of some of the biggest stories this week.
From the looming government shutdown to President Biden’s historic union support to the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), it was a consequential week in American politics. Not to mention Trump’s fraud liability, the evidence-free impeachment hearing, and the extremist Republican debate.
Let’s dive into the top stories from this week and why they matter:
The U.S. Government is currently on the brink of a shutdown as Republicans have failed to pass a bill to extend funding past the critical deadline of midnight on October 1, 2023. After Republicans rejected their own short-term spending bill on Friday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he has “more ideas.” But in reality, the odds look bleak.
The latest reporting from Punchbowl News Founder Jake Sherman indicates there is “no real discernible plan from House Republican leadership right now.” It’s important to note up front that this government shutdown, if it occurs, is on McCarthy and his caucus.
The likely government shutdown is due to deep-seated divisions within the House Republican caucus. Speaker Kevin McCarthy finds himself in a challenging position of his own making, trying to navigate the demands of his members. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been unsuccessfully attempting to appease the extremists within his caucus for months.
McCarthy’s extreme members have issued internal threats to McCarthy's leadership, leading to his push for a baseless impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Now, they’re seeking to shut the government down after Donald Trump demanded it be done in order to “defund” his criminal prosecutions.
McCarthy’s radical members are pushing for steeper spending cuts, the inclusion of border security measures, and the exclusion of Ukraine aid from funding packages. But, in reality, it’s not clear what they want. Their demands keep shifting. This comes after McCarthy had previously struck a deal with President Biden on funding levels, only to back out recently. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explained the situation accurately on the Senate Floor:
“Remember, bipartisan majorities agreed to funding levels back in June. The leaders of the House, the Senate, the White House, we all shook hands on this deal, but now the Speaker, and only the Speaker, is going back on his word.”
Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has opposed a shutdown, warning McCarthy that this isn’t the right approach. The Senate has been trying to put together various continuing resolutions to avoid a shutdown, but without assured passage in the House, the bills haven’t gotten to Biden’s desk.
The stakes involve real people’s lives, not just political careers. In the event of a shutdown, government employees and various essential services would be impacted. The impacts, according to NPR, include:
Federal Workers: Millions could face unpaid furloughs.
Food and Drug Administration will continue vital activities.
Social Security checks will still be issued.
Veterans Affairs facilities will remain open.
Air traffic control and airport personnel will work, potentially without pay.
Food Assistance Programs:
Potential interruptions in the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women Infants and Children (WIC), affecting millions.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service might run out of funding for WIC operations a few days into a shutdown.
Educational and Food Services:
Potential disruptions in Head Start educational programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to the elderly, could be interrupted.
National Parks: Visitor centers, campgrounds, research facilities, and museums might close, affecting scheduled events and attractions.
Health Care and Research:
Medicare and the Indian Health Service will remain operational.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services can fund Medicaid and CHIP for at least three months.
Community health centers funded by federal grants might see funding interruptions.
Potential furlough of 42% of the Department of Health and Human Services staff and nearly 80% of the National Institutes of Health staff.
1.3 million active-duty personnel would work without pay.
Of the estimated 800,000 Pentagon civilians, around 200,000 would work without pay.
Military commissaries could face closures after 60 days without appropriations.
Service members' reassignments would be halted.
Federal Law Enforcement: A lack of funding could slow down efforts, affecting task forces on human trafficking, terrorism, and drug violations.
Smithsonian and National Zoo: Potential closures, affecting events like the farewell to the giant pandas and the National Park Service's "Fat Bear Week."
Republicans have until 12:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to figure this out. Check out CNN’s live updates to track the developments.
Biden’s Historic Picket Line Visit
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden made a historic visit to the United Auto Workers (UAW) picket lines this week, making him the first President to do so. This wasn't just a mere photo-op or a fleeting gesture; it was a profound statement. Biden, who has often touted his blue-collar roots and has been dubbed the "most pro-union president" in recent history, showcased his unwavering support for the labor movement.
The significance of this visit cannot be overstated, especially in the current socio-political climate. Over the years, the labor movement has faced relentless challenges, from anti-union legislation to corporate strong-arming. Yet, the UAW strike represents a renewed vigor among workers, a collective pushback against years of wage stagnation and deteriorating working conditions. Biden's visit amplifies this sentiment, signaling a shift in the national discourse around labor rights. It's a reminder that the White House stands with the workers, and it's about time corporate giants take heed.
Donald Trump Found Liable For Fraud
On the same day Biden made history as the first president to visit a picket line, Donald Trump made history as the first former President to be found liable for fraud.
In a landmark ruling, a New York judge found the former president and his sons liable for fraud, leading to the cancellation of the Trump Organization’s business certification. This decision not only poses a significant threat to Trump's financial empire but also casts a shadow over his false image as a savvy businessman. In other words, Donald Trump is a con man, to the surprise of no one.
Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling is a stark rejection of Trump's claims that he did not inflate the values of his assets, including golf courses, hotels, and properties at Mar-a-Lago and Seven Springs. Engoron's words were scathing, highlighting that Trump's defense arguments were rooted in a "fantasy world" rather than reality.
The implications of this ruling are vast. The Trump Organization, which has been synonymous with Trump's personal brand, faces a major blow as its business certifications are revoked. A receiver will be appointed to manage the dissolution of the corporate entities, raising questions about the fate of properties like the commercial tower at 40 Wall Street and the Trump family compound at Seven Springs.
The broader impact on Trump's other assets, including those outside of New York like Mar-a-Lago, remains to be seen. This ruling underscores the gravity of the allegations, proving indisputably that Trump's business empire, which he has often used as a testament to his capabilities, was built on a foundation of lies.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who spearheaded the lawsuit, is seeking a staggering $250 million in damages and aims to prohibit the Trumps from serving as business officers in New York. That will be decided in the upcoming trial. As the legal proceedings unfold, one thing is clear: the man who built his brand on the premise of business prowess has been unmasked as a con artist in the eyes of the law.
R.I.P. Dianne Feinstein
On Friday, America learned of the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein. I wrote about her legacy in The Independent:
On Thursday morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was at the Capitol voting on the stopgap bill, trying to avert a government shutdown. On Friday morning, the country learned of her passing. On her very last day on Earth, Feinstein was working in the Senate chamber she helped shape for three decades. She was 90 years old.
Dianne Feinstein leaves behind a legacy as a trailblazer with a laundry list of historic firsts along her path to becoming the oldest and longest-serving woman Senator. A longtime advocate of civil rights, women’s reproductive rights, environmental issues, and gun reform, Feinstein’s impact on the nation and her home state of California is undeniable. Feinstein’s last few years in office were plagued with ailing health and calls for her to resign, but her life and career are defined by much more than that.
A Baseless Impeachment Hearing
As a government shutdown loomed, Republicans decided this was the week they would launch their baseless impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. I covered their Thursday hearing in The Independent:
In their first impeachment hearing, Republicans sought to smear President Biden with totally debunked claims straight out of 2019. This is an impeachment inquiry without basis, looking for a reason to exist. After six hours of grasping at straws and, in some cases, fabricating evidence, Republican insiders were privately admitting to reporters this was an "unmitigated disaster."
Before we dive into the substance of the hearing, it’s important to frame a few things upfront. After fearing for his job, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unilaterally opened this politically motivated impeachment inquiry based on zero evidence and without a full House vote—after promising he wouldn’t unilaterally open one without a full House vote. This was a capitulation to the far-right extremists within his caucus in a desperate effort to cling on to his Speakership.
There is absolutely zero evidence linking Joe Biden to Hunter Biden’s business dealings. Nor is there any evidence indicating that Biden used his political positions of power to aid Hunter in his dealings. Nothing in today’s hearing proved otherwise. In fact, Republicans’ own witnesses undermined their narrative.
2nd GOP Debate
If you were subscribed to the newsletter earlier this week, you already got my take on the Republican primary debate. But if not, you can read it here:
That’s all for this week’s newsletters. Thank you for reading. See you next week!
I’m aiming to be part of the solution with this newsletter. It’s entirely reader-supported. To receive new articles in your inbox and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.